The Batman is an American superhero film based on the hero of the same name. It’s another reboot of the film franchise that stars Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Operating for about two years as Batman, Batman tracks a serial killer known as The Riddler. The Riddler leaves cryptic messages at crime scenes and kills vital political figures in Gotham. Batman must investigate with Lieutenant Gordon and figure out Bruce Wayne’s family connection with the victims and corruption around Gotham.
By my count, the third movie reboot, The Batman, is another attempt to retell the origin of the popular superhero (despite having no superpowers). Initially, the movie connected with the failing DECU, with Ben Affleck set to star and direct. After Affleck left the project, Matt Reeves took over as director. Reeves reworked the script to remove the DCEU element and focus on Batman’s early vigilante career.
The plot involves Bruce Wayne/Batman trying to stop the Serial Killer known as The Riddler. The Riddler murders critical political figures in Gotham while attempting to expose the truth about these so-called defenders of Gotham. I’ve read that the plot takes some inspiration from other Batman stories. Like and inspired by other Batman comics and graphic novels like The Long Halloween, The Batman moved away from a fantasy comic book-like world to more of a Noir styled detective movie. Almost as if Batman were to exist in real life, similar to how Joker felt. This premise worked for me, as it provided a fresh take on Batman and showcased a side that I didn’t see in previous Batman films. The detective work required by Batman to capture these dangerous criminals.
The film has its action moments throughout it but shows Batman as the detective instead. The idea to show how Batman gets to the answer is risky, given the movie’s length. The viewer will have to go into the film and not expect the usual comic-book-style film—full of fantasy violence and exciting fights. Instead, expect a 1970’s style film noir The Batman took its inspiration from, such as Chinatown. As long as future films follow this, we can get another great series of Batman films. Assuming the atmosphere established stays true to the overall story. If given the correct elements and situations, this world works for Batman.
The look and design of Gotham City in The Batman are fantastic. Gotham looks and feels like a city rundown with crime and hopelessness. I can even feel believable to a real-life city rundown by crime and corruption. Some of the shots in the movie are clever, using shadows and techniques to make characters appear out of the darkness or be standing there the whole time. You don’t even notice this until it can be too late. While I initially felt maybe a sense of reverse horror happening whenever a criminal was about to be attacked by Batman, I think that dread might be the best word. Anyone going against Batman in the film knows the trouble they’ll be in once he strikes.
There isn’t much explanation of Batman’s past or how he got leading up to the film’s events. Leaving the full origins of Bruce becoming Batman out of this film is fine. I feel it’s a waste to show Thomas and Martha’s death in crime alley. How Bruce became Batman is widespread knowledge by now. There is evidence of Bruce Wayne struggling with being the Batman. Robert Pattinson did a good job with both Bruce Wayne and Batman, although I feel when he appeared on screen as Bruce Wayne, he was more emo Bruce Wayne than the well-dressed businessman.
I can also forgive this since Bruce’s portrayal of a young and inexperienced man trying to balance both lives he lives. You also get a feel in the film if Bruce is wondering if all he is doing in this film to keep Gotham safe is genuinely worth it. Even the inexperience Bruce has in the role shows. From the way, he tries to take down criminals and even using gadgets and some not working as intended. Many of the rookie elements that Bruce Wayne has developed are flawed but helped figure out how to become a Batman for the city that needs a protector.
Paul Dano as The Riddler came off as very unsettling. This Riddler is not the comics’ Edward Nigma that I knew. Instead of proving he is more intelligent than everyone, he is an unsettling psycho that tries to expose the public figures he targets and leaves clues for Batman. Dano plays Riddler as a serial killer with a social following. The inspiration of “zodiac Killer that’s a terrorist” is clear. The way Riddler comes off is almost identity-less, only wearing a mask covered by his glasses and distorted voice. It plays a role that builds to the fear element into Gotham’s already troubled city in this film and other future films to come.
I thought the rest of the cast were good roles for the story. Everyone worked well together onscreen, and all played their parts well. Much focus remained on Batman and how he interacted or reluctantly worked with the other characters to bring down The Riddler. Zoe Kravitz is Selina Kyle/Catwoman, a mysterious character to Batman and a counterpoint to Batman’s view of good and Evil. Jeffery Wright is Lt. James Gordon and the only officer Batman trusts. Gordon and Batman work together in most of the film, bringing down The Riddler. Andy Serkis is Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler, and aware of Bruce Wayne’s alternative identity. Bruce and Alfred seem to have a strained relationship. The conflict isn’t mentioned much in the film, and ambiguity about what caused the strain. Colin Ferrell is Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin, not yet a crime boss, but the right hand to Carmine Falcone, the current Gotham crime lord played by John Turturro. I didn’t get much and wanted more from The Penguin, but understand he’s only a minor character for now, with Falcone role being the current crime head and has ties to the Wayne family.
This film is long. It might be the only problem I have with the film. The movie runs for over three hours. While you feel the length the entire time of the film, you can stay engaged with the story and characters. I felt the story dragged points and many unnecessary long pauses between dialogue. However, it does build, and everything shown served a purpose to the story and what’s to come for more films in this new Batman film series.